Abstract painting and Chinese brush painting are absolutely amazing types of art. They both can truly create and express powerful meanings from nothing. Just the creative skills of the artist. Both, abstract painting and Chinese brush painting may seem easy and simple brush strokes, but nothing about them is actually easy or simple.
27 years ago, or thereabout, I bought a computer magazine and it had a CorelDraw promotional demo floppy disk with it. It was very interesting that I ended up buying the full working programme. I created my own little project to self-learn drawing/painting using vector-based graphics software.
(For the younger viewers who may not have come across floppy disks, these were commonly used as electronic data storage and transfer before CDs and DVDs).
The theme I selected for my project was to digitally draw/paint Chinese Brush Painting style. It took me several months to learn the programme.
I have included images of some of the paintings I created using CorelDraw.
Chinese brush painting style is amazing and, obviously, so different from other styles. Traditional Chinese painting is also associated with the art of calligraphy – which in itself is considered to be the highest form of painting. Traditionally, Chinese painting focused on three categories:
- Scenery: water, mountains, trees and other natural objects
- Birds and flowers
In traditional Chinese art, white space, e.g. background, is a major part of the painting. Colour was not used because it was thought to be a distraction. Shadows are also not used. Chinese painting focuses on the symbolic expression of simple beauty, serenity, tranquillity and harmony.
Chinese Brush Painting Styles
There are two main painting or art styles. The first is a freestyle, which may seem simple to create. The second is a more meticulous style, which is more realistic and detailed.
I like both, but I find the freestyle is amazing because the subject comes to life with just a few brush strokes. And the viewer fills in the rest of the artwork in his/her mind. The subject of the painting will often have a symbolic meaning and may be prepared for a special occasion.
The freestyle and brush strokes remind me of abstract painting. In the sense that it provides both the artist and the viewer a great opportunity to free their imagination and creativity.
Traditional Chinese Painting Main Tools
The materials used for Chinese brush painting are:
- Paper or silk
- Ink stone
- Ink stick
If you are a beginner, you could try using and experimenting with watercolour paints and other types of paper. But there is no substitute for using a proper Chinese brush to learn brush techniques, starting with how to hold the brush. Once you feel comfortable, you can try to apply varying degrees of pressure, speed and moisture. These are among the main skills needed to learn brush techniques.
A skilful single brush stroke is capable of conveying vitality, delicacy and contemplation – the essence of Chinese philosophy and spirit.
Chinese brush painting techniques do not try to create a realistic rendering of the external appearance of a subject, but instead, seek to capture its inner spirit. It is this “life force” or qi (pronounced chee or chi) that the artist aspires to capture and express through brush painting. There is a lot of information and demonstration about traditional Chinese paintings.
In my opinion, this is particularly where I see a small link between abstract painting and Chinese brush painting. Both arts do not look at the outer side of the painting but really it is to take you deep inside within.
I am not comparing between abstract painting and Chinese brush painting as there is no comparison basis. Chinese brush painting is rich in history over thousands of years. It is one of the oldest continuous artistic traditions in the world, originating around 4000 B.C.E. and developing over a period of more than six thousand years.
It is deeply rooted in the cultural identity of the Chinese nation and it constitutes a vital part of the traditional Chinese culture.
Both, abstract painting and Chinese brush painting art styles, are absolutely amazing and both may look simple and easy to create. But it takes years of hard learning and practice to develop the right skills to be able to create or re-create meaningful artworks.
It requires great knowledge and experience in several elements starting with the concept of Chinese painting. It also demands the mastery of the necessary tools and materials. It takes years of dedicated learning and practising to create the right kind of talent.